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5E Changing published campaign settings that improve them

machineelf

Explorer
Have you ever made a change to a published campaign setting that you felt made the setting markedly better, either in a small or big way? I know this is subjective, but I'm talking about changes that you think most other people would agree are improvements.

In my own example, I run the pre-Time of Troubles setting of the Forgotten Realms. In my world, Manshoon, of the Zhentarim is not a wizard; he is a rogue mastermind. I've created an 18th level rogue-mastermind NPC sheet for him. The evil priest Fzoul is second in command of the Zhentarim, under him. And the Zhentarim is all about money and power, even though Fzoul personally is focused on the spread of Bane-worship. Manshoon himself worships Bane, but is not as zealous as Fzoul.

In the canon of the FR, Manshoon is a wizard, and the Zhentarim's pursuit of wealth is just a means to and end to gain more magical power. At its core, the Zhentarim is more of a wizard's organization that hires and recruits other types.

But this didn't seem right to me. There are already plenty of other evil wizarding groups, from the Arcane Brotherhood to the Red Wizards of Thay to the Twisted Rune of Calimshan. It didn't seem like there needed to be another wizard-focused evil group. So, in my world the Zhentarim is a dangerous group bent on financial and political power (more recent 4th and 5th edition products seemed to have emphasized this as well), and Manshoon is no wizard; instead he is perhaps the most dangerous and cunning rogue mastermind who has ever walked the continent.

I am quite pleased with this change. What are your own changes to your worlds?

p.s., Rogue masterminds make amazing villains.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I also use the Realms but modify them to suit my tastes. Non-human races are much rarer outside their native lands than in the published titles. Small cities will have only a few true-elves, dwarfs or gnome while larger ones have a little more; still, their's no cities with 1000 elves and dwarves in it. Wood elves live in small warband in greats forests from Thethyr to the north while high-elves are found mostly in Evereska; the great elven exodus to Evermeet is still going on and many high-elves retreated to the Feywild. The dwarves just recaptured Gauntlgrym and plan to recreate their lost empire of Delzoun. Many dwarf-hold are reopened by small wandering clans. The Zentharim is much more like the mob than a wizarding group. The Kraken Society is more present across the Sword Coast and act a spy network/cult. Thay is still ruled by Saaz Tham but with the help of the other Tarchion-Liches of each magic school.

The most important part is that NPC dont have class-levels and high-level adventurer are really rare while magic is still as powerful but more you dont see every village priest/sage/elder/healer casting spells. Also, there's a lot of open space between empire/cities and not everything your hear about cataclysm or hero from the past is known or true.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I run a modified version of 4e’s Points of Light setting. One of the changes I make is that Eladrin aren’t around any more. They’re this mysterious race of fae-like precursor elves who long ago disappeared back into the feywild. The impetus for this was the fact that I wanted to run the setting in 5e and Eladrin aren’t a core PHB race/subrace in 5e. But I kind of like the impact it’s had on the setting. Elves are this sort of orphaned race, cut off from their ancestral home. The Wood Elf/High Elf cultural split becomes about how different elves deal with their relationship to the Eladrin - the High Elves carry on half-remembered Eladrin traditions and tryto recapture their ancestors’ lost glory, while the wood elves embrace their new place within the material plane and abandon the ancient arcane practices in favor of druidic magic and a deeper connection to the natural world. “Half” elves are the descendents of elves who took a third approach, integrating with the civilized world. They’re not truly half-human half-elf, but rather a separate race with mixed human and elvish heritage. I admit, this take drew a lot of inspiration from Dragon Age, effectively casting the Eladrin as the ancient elves, splitting aspects of the Daelish between Wood and High elves, and making Half-elves into DA’s City elves.

Drow are probably the closest thing to Eladrin left in the material plane. They were Eladrin, but were cut off from the Feywild as part of their exile to the Underdark as punishment for Aurashne’s betrayal of Corellon.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
I run a modified version of 4e’s Points of Light setting. One of the changes I make is that Eladrin aren’t around any more. They’re this mysterious race of fae-like precursor elves who long ago disappeared back into the feywild. The impetus for this was the fact that I wanted to run the setting in 5e and Eladrin aren’t a core PHB race/subrace in 5e. But I kind of like the impact it’s had on the setting. Elves are this sort of orphaned race, cut off from their ancestral home. The Wood Elf/High Elf cultural split becomes about how different elves deal with their relationship to the Eladrin - the High Elves carry on half-remembered Eladrin traditions and tryto recapture their ancestors’ lost glory, while the wood elves embrace their new place within the material plane and abandon the ancient arcane practices in favor of druidic magic and a deeper connection to the natural world. “Half” elves are the descendents of elves who took a third approach, integrating with the civilized world. They’re not truly half-human half-elf, but rather a separate race with mixed human and elvish heritage. I admit, this take drew a lot of inspiration from Dragon Age, effectively casting the Eladrin as the ancient elves, splitting aspects of the Daelish between Wood and High elves, and making Half-elves into DA’s City elves.

Drow are probably the closest thing to Eladrin left in the material plane. They were Eladrin, but were cut off from the Feywild as part of their exile to the Underdark as punishment for Aurashne’s betrayal of Corellon.
That's a lot like Shaintar's take on elves, where tje original beings are actually wholly spiritual, and the different races of elves reflect how mich they have embraced the mortal world.

Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
That's a lot like Shaintar's take on elves, where tje original beings are actually wholly spiritual, and the different races of elves reflect how mich they have embraced the mortal world.

Interesting! My Eladrin are definitely physical, though fae, entities, and the divides between my elves are generally more cultural than biological. But that sounds like a co alternate approach to the same root concept. Might be worth looking more into.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
Interesting! My Eladrin are definitely physical, though fae, entities, and the divides between my elves are generally more cultural than biological. But that sounds like a co alternate approach to the same root concept. Might be worth looking more into.

Yeah, I was amazed by how awesome the Shaintar setting was. Especially with dwarves. They were more dwarf than D&D dwarves! The only other system that did dwarves super cool was Radiance.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
for me, I run an published setting when I want an established shorthand of familiarity with my players. Having a player not know something (so ask) in a homebrew is much preferable to having a player "know" something that ends up being wrong, and not even questioning it because it's a part of the setting.

So just when I make changes, I make sure the players know about them, even if without details like "I've reworked details of some of the more secretive groups like the Harpers and the Zhents in order to keep them fresh and, well, mysterious".
 

I altered the way Planescape and Spelljammer interact with the other settings. My version of the D&D "multiverse" uses real world space physics and such. Crystal Spheres are features of the Astral Plane, enclosing the cosmology of each core world. Sigil is still a nexus point where all cosmologies interact but otherwise, each prime setting's cosmologies are unique, contained within the Crystal Spheres.
 

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